About the Author

From the book Kliazma and Yauza
From the book The Wild Rose
From the book Tristan and Isolde
From the book Old Songs
From the book Gates. Windows. Arches
From the book Stanzas in the Manner of Alexander Pope
From the book Stellae and Inscriptions  
From the book The Iambic Verses
The Chinese Travelogue
From An Unfinished Book
From the book The Evening Song
From the book Elegies
From the book The Beginning of a Book
From the book Stellae and Inscriptions

To Nina Braginskaya
who has studied antique epitaphs, and much else, insightfully
Mistress and Servant
A woman looks into a mirror: what she sees can’t be seen;
It’s unlikely that anything’s there.
On the other hand, why then is she
admiring one thing and figuring out how to fix something else
through one trick or another? why study herself?
It’s clear somthing’s there. Something that needs an affectionate
balm, pendants and beads. The servant stands silent
awaiting a wish that she’ll never fulfill.

Yes, we never understood each other. That’s understandable.
It wasn’t hard.
Something else was harder. We knew
all about everyone. All, to the end, to its
final and tender infinity.
Not wishing, not thinking – we knew.
Not listening – knew
and considered their wish in our minds, the wish that they
never had time to make known or to think about even. Of course.
For we’ve all got but one single request.
          And there’s nothing besides
that request.

Andrew Wachtel


Mistress and Maidservant

A woman looks in a mirror, but we cannot see what she sees there,
one might hardly suppose there was something; yet if so,why then
should one marvel at one thing, or guess how to handle another
in such and such manner; why, then, do we study ourselves?
You see, there is something in this. Something prompting the pampering unguents,
the beads and the pendants. In silence the serving-maid stands,
awaiting her mistress’ request, a request she will never fulfil.

No, we did not understand one another; that is something
we can understand, So much is easy.
Something else is less easy; we knew
every thing about everyone. Everything to the end, to the last
tender and infinite attribute.
Without thinking or asking, we knew
and discussed without words a request
that they hadn’t yet made, that they hadn’t yet thought of
No wonder: there is just one request we all have,
          we have nothing at all but for that
one request.

Catriona Kelly
A Boy, an Old Man, and a Dog
The Figure of a Woman
Two Figures
 Mistress and Servant
Pitcher: Tombstone of a Friend
Playing Child
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